Red Neckromancer: The band name itself is such a clever cultural portmanteau that you expect the music to fall in line with macabre metal tropes rendered as whiskeyed, barnyard folk. You expect one pretty decent pun about a cultural incongruity, or an unlikely affinity, played over and over until it’s spent, or probably slightly longer.
But this music just doesn’t comply. These songs – “Fear and Loathing in the Homeless Dating Scene,” “Whiskey and Your Lady Parts” – they’re not jokes. They are, for sure, carefully positioned stylistically, raw and unredeemed, all tender menace and abject, downtrodden hedonism; but they don’t rely much at all on the culture-clash novelty implied by the band name.
The only song that seems to speak directly to the name is “Metal Girl,” in which Rev Kev neatly bundles three hard-rock references when he sings “Let me get Down with Your System/You can take my Bulls on Parade/Maybe someday we can settle down/Have some Children of the Grave.” But the song turns out to be a slice-of-life punk travelogue about a Wisconsin metalhead who puts up Rev Kev’s other band, the New Paltz heavy-punk outfit Tiger Piss, when they were on one of their many do-it-yourself romps around the country.
That sense of walkabout and the elective low-life of touring permeates Tickle The Pitchfork, Red Nekromancer’s debut CD. All music evokes period to some extent, whether it means to or not, in its passing sense of what the world is like outside the window of the songs. Are there computers out there, for example, or do the people around generally believe in Jesus and expect you to? Is there a war going on and, if so, where is it and what kind of weapons is it being fought with? What do advertisements look like and how do the children dress for school? Tickle The Pitchfork is carefully vague on the time/place continuum, achieving an anachronistic remove from the present without ever seeming especially retro or, least of all, studied. Its gesture of cultural abdication is timeless, its parade of unapologetic antiheroes too.
Played by Rev Kev on guitar, Malachi McElroy on banjo and David Pannullo on bass, the music itself is homely, sturdy folk with some not-especially-nimble bluegrass gesture, gang vocals and common verse forms that you can get right in on if you want. Rev Kev barks his blunt-but-effective melodies. In the lyrics, there’s a surprise, a “Did he just say that?” jolt around every corner, and – this most of all – no ruse, no real wink to speak of; lots of humor but no joke. By the end, there’s even an implied message: I choose an unashamed, slumming life of pleasures where I find them and a bit of adventure over the various perfumed servitudes of modern life.
Tickle The Pitchfork is live music, so it is not terribly hard to imagine what Red Neckromancer sounds like live. Like this: Red Neckromancer performs along with Tigerman WOAH at the Anchor in Kingston on Saturday, August 8 at 9:30 p.m. as part of the second annual clambake. The cover charge is $5. The Anchor is located at 744 Broadway in Kingston. Visit https://theanchorkingston.com for more details. Find Red Neckromancer online to inquire after their excellent CD.
Red Neckromancer/Tigerman WOAH, Saturday, August 8, 9:30 p.m., $5, The Anchor, 744/746 Broadway, Kingston; https://theanchorkingston.com.